This is the season for hosting, and hopefully attending, a few parties and I’ve been doing both over the last couple of weeks.
Champagne is obviously great for oiling the social circuit. But even with the champagne houses feeling the squeeze, and beginning to produce some tempting offers, sparkling wine can deliver the same sort of quality as cheap champagne for a fraction of the price.
For my own do’s, I tend to go for the Wine Society’s Celebration Crémant de Loire. Made in the Loire out of chenin blanc, chardonnay and cabernet franc, it is bright and fresh, with a tasty chardonnay tang and refined littlish bubbles. Good enough to drink on its own. £9.95 a bottle when you buy a case of six.
I’ve also tried the Wine Society’s Saumur. Also from the Loire, but this time mostly chenin blanc. Its fine, but I find it a little gassy and lacking flavour, although great for mixing with peach juice or elderflower cordial. However at £7.95 a bottle for a case of six I’d go for the extra flavour the chardonnay brings to the celebration.
However I was knocked out by an Australian sparkling wine served at a recent party I went to hosted by a big London legal firm. Willowglen Brut is a blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Serving fizz cold – but not freezing – in nice, weightily tall champagne glasses really does help. But this sparkler really delivered a lot of flavour and depth in its own right. For me crispness is not everything, although this still had enough freshness and lift.
For a party, definitely a bargain.